Medical schools incorporate population health to train doctors of the future

Medical education
Medical schools are redesigning curricula to focus more on population health.

More medical schools are incorporating population health into the education of future doctors, including a handful of programs that have radically changed their curricula.

Schools need to do more than create a department of population health or add a few classes, David Nash, M.D., founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University, the nation’s first college of population health, told Hospitals & Health Networks.

For instance, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin has given up on the traditional type of curriculum and designed its program to train doctors to work in a healthcare system focused on population health and the transition away from volume-based or value-based care, according to another H&HN report.


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That’s part of a trend in medical education to stress health concerns of communities and value-based care. “What I see going on around the country is a belated but welcome recognition that this is important. We’ve been creating a physician who doesn’t understand current market forces. We have to build a different kind of doctor for the future. That means changing the factory floor,” Nash said.

Rather than the typical medical school curriculum that involves 2 years of classroom work in basic sciences and 2 years of clinical experience, schools are moving to expose students to patients early on in their studies. At Dell, for instance, students in their second year begin 40-week clinical clerkships where they follow patients from admission to post-discharge.

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Kaiser Permanente is slated to open its medical school in 2019, with a program designed so that its integrated system becomes the primary learning tool for students. “Our whole design model is based upon taking a medical school and embedding it into our system of care,” Marc Klau, M.D, vice dean of education and clinical education, told H&HN.

It’s not only new medical schools that are revolutionizing physician education. Schools, both old and new, are making changes to train doctors to work in the changing healthcare environment. For example, starting this year, the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine will phase out lectures in favor of what’s known as active learning.

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